Hey, Mom! The Explanation.

Here's the permanent dedicated link to my first Hey, Mom! post and the explanation of the feature it contains.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #470 - More teaching stupidity - How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Seven

Mom at Dad's 50th birthday - June 26 1985
Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #470 - More teaching stupidity - How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Seven

Hi Mom,  I know you are so proud of me for my work in this field and my teaching of hundreds, possibly into the thousands of students, on how to best compose persuasive essays for college courses. I feel this pride as energy from the source, and it keeps me going, it keeps me working, it keeps me honest, true, and caring. It takes a great deal of patience and empathy to teach. I employ these qualities as best I can, but they are steep hills. You give me strength, Mom. You help. And like this entire blog, these entries are dedicated to you, Mom.

Where did all this content originate: I had a class a few years ago in web design, so I decided to collect all my lecture materials from various classes -- mostly online -- in composition regarding the process for completing a persuasive essay. In teaching persuasive writing, I developed what I call the "because-should" thesis as a form (though not only the form) for a writing a persuasive thesis. I also developed content on debunking supposed teacher wisdom, such as not using Wikipedia or avoiding first person. I have shared these concepts in this series though it's very much a work in progress.

Mainly, I wanted to get my "because-should" thesis statement method for persuasive essay writing in college courses online so it would come up in a Google search. I was hoping that a Google search of "because should thesis statement persuasive essay" would bring up my blog in the 20-30 results. But such is not the case. There's 26,000 some results, and I could not find my blog quickly or easily.

I have been directing students here. If you are one of my students, welcome. This blog series is written to my Mom, which is why students will see me address my Mom as "you" and not readers as "you," typically. See link above for first Hey Mom post for an explanation.

Here are the links to the previous six installments of this feature.

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part One

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Two

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Three

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Four

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Five

How to Write a Persuasive Essay Part Six

David Bowie


I am not kidding.

Maximum length stupidity

Maximum lengths only legitimately exist for one reason: Teaching economy of language.

A business communications or technical writing class will set maximums on written assignments because students have to minimize text to save the reader's time. 

A memo or a set of instructions (or even a web site like this one) should remain short and sweet to be most effective.

However, an essay in an academic English class should not be limited by a maximum.

A maximum only exists for one reason if imposed upon a paper in an English composition class:

teacher laziness.

Teachers who do not want to be grading in the first place limit the amount of text that they allow students to write simply because they do not want to read a lot of pages.

However, in a class that encourages critical thinking and encourages students to fully examine a subject in depth with well developed ideas, a maximum length can be crippling. 

When students spend too much time focused on staying under the maximum, their ideas suffer, and so does the paper.

Teachers who care more about their grading load than being effective educators may want to consider another line of work.

Summary conclusion stupidity

I am going to throw a monkey wrench into the mix here. This is my function in the universe. I am the Galactic Monkey Wrench! But that’s a story for another time.

I do not like summary conclusions. Now, do not take this the wrong way. If you write a good summary conclusion, I will not lower your grade simply because I dislike summary conclusions. That’s not how I roll.

Conclusions - There's a mixed bag of opinions out there on how to write conclusions even among composition teachers but certainly between teachers and writers (though sometimes, like with me, you have one person who is both).

Many advocate for a summary conclusion. One teacher once spoke of paper structure as "Tell me what you are going to tell me, tell it to me, tell me what you told me."

As investigators of the writing process, I ask you: is this the best method of concluding in a short paper?

Do you really need to tell the reader what you just wrote?

Is a summary conclusion necessary for a short paper?

If you don't summarize in the conclusion, then what do you write? How do professional writers end articles?

One way to find ways to conclude is to look at other essays or magazine articles that use research (such as Scientific American). Do they use summary conclusions? Most do not.

Why would one summarize a short work? I just read it. Why would I need to be reminded of what I just read?

Summaries are useful after VERY long papers (like over 20 pages) or as "abstracts" or "executive summaries" at the beginning of a large report/paper.

But take it from a professional writer, summary is the LEAST effective way to end a piece of writing, and it is very rote.

Actually, the people who MOST want summary conclusions are teachers. Why do you think that is?

I have always disliked: "tell them what your going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you just told them."

It works up to the conclusion, though.

It's just that summary conclusions are... well, repetitive.

It's great when the paper is 20 or 40 pages long.

But when it's just 3-5 pages, a summary conclusion is a real let down. I think there need to be some recap though.

Summary is like....But didn't I just read those points? I may have killed a lot of brain cells in all my years of heavy drinking, but not that many!!

Why not leave the reader with something new to think about...?

Here's an example from an essay Karen Castellucci Cox called "Four Types of Courage" in which she uses classification to develop ideas about the types of courage: physical, social, moral, and creative.

Her conclusion shows both how to stretch a conclusion over two paragraphs, but also how to end like a rock song ends with a nice final note but without rote summary.

I may include the entire essay in a future installment of this series as I am keen to share some examples.

But examine this conclusion for how it's a final note, a final thought, a nice ending, and NOT a summary. This conclusion method displays a much more sophisticated way to write.

Final thoughts on stupidity

I have delivered a great deal of unvarnished truth here.

Students will appreciate it. But should be warned that taking my advice may cost their grades with some "teachers."

   Chris Tower    The Galactic Monkey Wrench   Kalamazoo, Michigan   49006   Contact me here with questions or comments. 

© All text and some of the images are the exclusive copyright of christopher tower (who purposefully avoids capitalizing his name), also known as the galactic monkey wrench, located at the Eldorado Ranch and batcave in the heart of the Great Lakes. All rights reserved. All paronomasia are intentional.


Reflect and connect.

Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.

I miss you so very much, Mom.

Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.


- Days ago = 472 days ago

- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1610.19 - 10:10

NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.
Post a Comment